Rape is defined as sexual intercourse that is forced on a person without his or her permission. It may involve physical force or the threat of force. It may also be done against someone who is unable to give consent.
Sexual intercourse may be vaginal, anal, or oral. It may involve the use of a body part or an object.
Most estimates say that 80 - 90% of rapes are not reported to police. Current trends project that 1 in 3 American women will be sexually assaulted at some point during their life.
The typical rape victim is a 16- to 24-year-old woman. Anyone, however -- man or woman, adult or child -- can be the victim of rape. In most cases, the victim knows the rapist.
Other important facts about rape include:
Date rape occurs when someone forces another person they are dating or spending time with to have sex. Date rape may involve the use of drugs such as flunitrazepam (Rohypnol).
The best response when being attacked will depend on the victim, the attacker, and the situation.
AFTER A RAPE HAS OCCURRED
The victim may know, or even live or work with a person who sexually assaulted them. It is very important that rape victims get help to find a place where they feel safe after the attack.
People who are raped may not be able to say they were raped or seek help. Some may get medical help for a different reason, such as headaches, eating problems, pain, or sleep problems.
Emotional reactions can vary from person to person. Reactions may include:
Victims of rape should be helped to understand that what happened was not their fault. Nothing that they did should have allowed someone to have sex with them against their will. This includes dressing suggestively, or even kissing or other physical intimacy. The fault or blame is solely on the rapist.
The health care providers will:
After a sexual assault, it is very important that the person get support and information to begin the process of healing. This includes:
Sex and rape; Date rape; Sexual assault
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Cowley D, Lentz GM. Emotional aspects of gynecology. In: Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Katz VL, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2012:chap 9.
Linden JA. Care of the adult patient after sexual assault. N Engl J Med. 2011;365:834-841.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sexual assault and STDs. In: Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines. 2010. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2010:17(59)(RR-12):90-95.
Updated by: Fred K. Berger, MD, Addiction and Forensic Psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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